Obesity: Part 1

I’ve been fat three times. I was pregnant each time and although I stressed about the changes like most women do, I always knew it would eventually come off. After Seth came along, I realized I didn’t have to go downstairs to sit in front of the tv with a decaf Coca-Cola and Italian ice every night. Fortunately, I realized this in the grocery store, in time to say no to buying them yet again. When I took those two things out of my diet, (I was also on the move with two little children.) my weight loss picked up and I dropped a half a pound a day until it was gone.

On our last trip to Arkansas and Mississippi in December 2007, Mississippi had been declared the fattest state in the Union for its second year, now in its third. Arkansas is tied for Oklahoma in 8th place. (Some states have actually lost weight. Finding out why will be research for Obesity: Part 2.) I remember seeing an older couple get out of their car at a convenience store in Arkansas. The woman was a normal weight. The man with her, who’d gotten out slowly and lumbered through the door, was morbidly obese. I imagine it was his only activity for the day. Have you ever tried to exercise with excess weight? A woman who’s ever tried to run without a bra knows what that feels like. Since most of his weight gain was in his abdomen, it was hanging down onto his thighs. Every step brought uncomfortable, probably painful movement. Carrying extra weight means his knees were bad, and his back was doing a lot of work to carry it all through the door. And he could feel his fat moving with every step. My sympathy was mixed with repulsion, hence the word morbid.

With that on my mind I came back to California more aware than ever about obesity. I’ve only written in my private journal so far because I’m afraid to handle a sensitive subject in a public place. But obesity is a life changing force that is affecting an incredible amount of people in the U.S. alone. There are a plethora of books and websites on how to lose a bit of weight, but morbid obesity? Too few. For the morbidly obese, you’ll find plenty of medications to ease the symptoms and health crises brought on by all that weight. And with the medication? More weight gain and more depression; the problem is compounded beyond what any normal person can bare alone. Then there’s surgery, which is not that easy to jump into. Doctors often ask patients to lose a good amount of weight before the surgery, and then of course the weight loss is slow. A lot of people are desperate for something. Most of us are expert at hiding it, but not the obese. Their desperation is obvious.

Technically, I would be considered obese at 132 lbs. Take my ideal weight (110) and add 20% of that (22) to it (=132). Formulas don’t take into account how a person is built, how their bones will carry the weight. Certainly, 132 would make me overweight, but I’d no idea I’d be obese.

That explains why we hear parents are surprised to learn their children are obese. Perhaps they see it as baby fat, or they have a weight problem of their own to deal with first. When I don’t say no to myself, it’s very hard to say no to my children. But when I’m saving dessert as my reward, no becomes much easier to say to the kiddies. But how much of the nation is confused about obesity? Who we thought were overweight are actually obese. So who we thought were obese are morbidly obese. I think I’ve been conservative because it just sounds so condemning, and I haven’t wanted to label people I care about with the word “obese”.

But telling people to just say no to themselves is not enough. Have you ever found yourself assuming that someone obese is also poor? This article is short but gets to the point. Go here for more in depth reading. Did you hear yet that they’ve found the obesity gene? Blaming genetics won’t do of course, and even though telling people to “get up an move” is obvious to most of us, some people need to be told.

More to come: Obesity: Part 2

3 Comments

  1. Beau
    Posted Fri Jan 9 14:36:55 -0800 2009 |

    Obesity is a major problem. I too was surprised to find that I was just over the boarder of being obese. I've lost 16 pound since and wold like to lose a total of 30 pounds.

    "Eat to Live" (by Joel Fuhrman) is a recent book that spells things out very simply. It's kinda billed as a dieting book, but it's more about teaching you how to eat. Pointing out what things we eat are not really food. This book also references so many other books and it's contents are such common sense that I really wish I could get more people to read it.

    I just ordered "The China Study" (referenced in Eat to Live) as it seemed like a very comprehensive study on nutrition. It focuses on several different villages (most chinese don't move from their hometown) which have very different diets and describes the complications they have later in life.

    Looking forward to reading more about your thoughts. =)

  2. Beau
    Posted Fri Jan 9 15:41:42 -0800 2009 |

    Posted a comment on the article about Obesity you linked to. ;)

  3. Georgia
    Posted Fri Jan 9 16:31:14 -0800 2009 |

    Beau, I never would've guessed you wanted to lose that much, especially since you have a healthy lifestyle and you eat healthy.

    Thank you for the book recommendations. I'll have to check those out. Perhaps they will jump-start my next post on this subject. The only book I've read on the subject of weight/lifestyle is French Women Don't Get Fat (full of the kind of good habits that apply to men also.) But to change a lifestyle it has to be read repeatedly, or at least skimmed repeatedly to remind a body how to be.